Pic by Todd Johnson
Welcome to the very first article in my off-season series as I’ll be looking at a pot pourri of prospects and pronouncements. Each episode is going to be fun for me to write because each article does not have to fit any kind of formula other than to talk about five things. It could be about prospects, it might be about coaches or managers, or it could entail just some trends in the system, the draft, or even international free agency. I will keep you guessing.
Let’s kick off the series with a look at its namesake, number five for the South Bend Cubs, Pete Crow-Armstrong.
One of the highlights for me this year was getting to see Pete Crow-Armstrong play centerfield most every day for South Bend. When I first met him, he was actually injured and I would not get to see him play until the end of June in Beloit. What a six game set that was as he made some of the most unbelievable catches I’ve seen in person.
But the Pete Crow-Armstrong I saw on TV in April and May at Myrtle Beach was nothing like the Pete Crow-Armstrong at South Bend. He was much more mature and less petulant. I don’t think I saw him argue with an ump all summer and about the only immature thing I saw him do was break a bat over his leg. However, I actually kind of liked that intensity. The narrative does not talk about his maturity as a person.
Here are five ways how that new maturity is helping him.
1. For Pete, maybe the best thing that happened to him was struggling at South Bend and then sitting injured for two weeks and not playing. It probably made him appreciate being on the field more especially since he missed out almost all of 2021.
2. It is not that PCA is a nonstop talker, but he is constantly talking about the game during the game. I love players who can analyze every pitch down to the finest detail. The game seems slow for him.
3. Owen Caissie is probably one of the nicest kids I’ve met in the past few years. Wherever you found Owen this summer, you usually found Pete. That friendship included nonstop discussions about baseball during practice, during pregame, in the dugout after every bat, on the way out into the field, and back into the dugout at the end of the inning. It was one of the coolest friendships I’ve seen since Eloy Jimenez and Eddie Martinez.
4r. One of the things that I like about PCA and his maturity is that he takes risks. It might be in an at-bat, it might be on the bases, but he’s getting a feel for the players he’s playing against. In a six game set, a team gets to know you real quick. It can either be a good week or it can be a long week. He’s not afraid to try something different just to throw the other team off. I love that about him.
5. One other sign of maturity that I just love about Pete is that he will do anything for kids at the ball park. Adults try to get him to sign all the time and I don’t know how he ignores them, but he does. If it’s a child, he’s there in a second signing autographs taking pictures, doing whatever for the kids. I love the fact that he can just block certain autograph seekers out.
Heading into 2023, PCA is far from a finished product and that also includes his maturity. He’s still working on things and he’s only 20-years-old (edit: not 21, but 20 yrs old). But he’s on the right track and he’s doing things that are going to make him successful down the road. Just how fast these things come together is going to be unclear. But it’s going to be fun watching him.
Unfortunately, I’ll only get to see him on TV until he gets to Iowa. Hopefully, that will be very soon. Who knows, I might take a trip to Tennessee in early June if he is still in Double-A. Then again, Iowa is a lot closer.
Keep this in mind….PCA spent most of last winter rehabbing. This winter….his work is all about improving and getting stronger. Think about that for a minute or two. I can’t even imagine how much better he will be in 2023.